I walked by a little girl wearing a shirt that said “Kind is the new cool”. I wanted to stop and give her a big hug or nominate her for president. As I kept walking I thought of how Jesus said, “You will never get into God’s kingdom unless you enter it like a child” (Luke 18:17). Maybe we should all sit down and let some children teach us how to act. It seems like we could use some childlikeness to influence our public discourse these days. Our world is greatly in need of kindness.
Recently I had noticed an intense harshness both in social media and in some unusually unpleasant interactions in my own experience. My attempt to sell something on Craigslist resulted in the buyer refusing to pay what she had agreed to and elicited a yelling match between her and my neighbor who was feeling protective of me and wanting to ensure that I got the amount that was fair. And a close friend handled a situation in a way that felt uncharacteristically inconsiderate.
I could sense that these situations were affecting my outlook in a negative way, and these stirred up feelings seemed to manifest in physical discomfort one afternoon. I felt weak and unwell all of a sudden. It seemed obvious that I needed to address my mental state. In prayer I was claiming that these intense angry feelings had no basis in God, the only power, and could not be present in my consciousness nor influence the collective thought in the world that appeared to be filling the airwaves recently. I resolved to be clear that these poisonous thoughts could not infiltrate my being in any way, and I made an effort to recognize every evidence of good, of which I knew God to be the source, that I knew could counteract and destroy these ungodlike sentiments.
The evidence of God’s presence and power was present in many ways, one of which was through the kindness of a child. I was caring for a friend’s two teenage sons while she was away, and they seemed to sense that I needed some space that evening. They had been wanting to watch a movie together, but one of them saw me on the couch and said, “We can watch the movie another night. We’ll head upstairs so you can go to bed. Love you, Auntie Laura!” The sweetness of this interaction melted away the cold, harsh feelings that had overwhelmed me earlier, and the physical unrest also dissipated.
The next day I still felt some anger and yearned to be free of it. But frankly I didn’t seem to know how. I felt especially disappointed in someone’s behavior and wanted to get past that way of viewing this person. As I went into the supermarket, a familiar song was playing that I had not heard in years. It was a song my brother used to listen to when we were growing up and he was a budding jazz connoisseur. The song was Living Inside Your Love by George Benson. I love this version with him and Earl Klugh.
I’m sure it was intended as a romantic song, but I always heard it as a song about living inside God’s infinite love. And I realized, “Oh, of course. We were never expected to love people who do wrong out of our mortal limited sense of love. We are able to love others because we are all held inside that all embracing divine Love. It doesn’t come from me as a person. I can do that- I can love by knowing that it’s really God doing the love.” That was a huge relief and a weight off my shoulders.
I thought of where Mary Baker Eddy says in Science and Health, “The depth, breadth, height, might, majesty, and glory of infinite Love fill all space. That is enough!” (p. 520). The marginal heading for that paragraph says “Love and man coexistent”. How comforting to know we are not responsible for finding love within ourselves by ourselves. There is an infinite source of that love. The world needs that love so much, and we can affirm that it is tangibly present.
And it really is tangibly present in all kinds of ways when you look for it. Recently I was staying with a friend whose husband packs her lunch every morning. It was the sweetest thing and really touched me. I kept thinking that little acts of kindness like that, inspired by that omnipotent allness of a Love bigger than ourselves, can collectively have an effect on dismantling and dissolving the terrorism and rancor that seem to be rampant in our world lately. It might not happen today or tomorrow, and more ultimately may be required of us than these simple acts of kindness. But it is a such a good place to start and such a good reminder that we are not helpless in the face of these scary sentiments that come to the surface. Our endeavors to be like children and make “kind the new cool” can make a difference and help transform our world into an atmosphere more like the kingdom of God.